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J Struct Biol. 2002 Apr-May;138(1-2):85-91.

Three-dimensional imaging of biological complexity.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Health Research, Incorporated, Albany, NY 12201-0509, USA.


Over the past 5 years, thanks to advances in both instrumentation and computational speed, three-dimensional imaging techniques using the electron microscope have been greatly improved in two areas: electron tomography of cell organelles or cell sections and reconstruction of macromolecules from single particles. Ice embedment has brought a breakthrough in the degree of preservation of specimens under close-to-native conditions. The current challenge is to push the resolution of electron tomographic imaging to a point where macromolecular signatures can be recognized within the cellular context. We show first progress toward this goal by examples in two areas of application: the structure of the muscle triad junction and the architecture and fine structure of mitochondria. As techniques of cryo-microtomy are perfected, we hope to be able to apply tomography to high-pressure frozen sections of tissue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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